Belfast Telegraph

David Healy hopeful victory over Cliftonville is first step to winning back Linfield trust after Queen's shock

Linfield manager David Healy salutes the support after his side's win over Cliftonville.
Linfield manager David Healy salutes the support after his side's win over Cliftonville.
Gareth Hanna

By Gareth Hanna

Linfield manager David Healy hopes that he has begun to win the 'trust' of the club back through his side's 2-1 win at Cliftonville on Monday night.

Just nine days after the Blues' shocking Irish Cup exit at Queen's University, Healy's boys went back on top of the Danske Bank Premiership table by ending the Reds' run of four consecutive league victories.

Linfield are now above both Monday's opponents and their rivals Glentoran on goal difference but also boast a game in hand.

With things looking a little more rosy in terms of his side's title prospects, Healy's optimistic the Queen's heartache can soon be consigned to the history books.

"Nobody took it on the chin more than I did last week," he told the club website. "I was hurting but maybe that's because I care so much. I love being manager of this club and I love the challenge. Last week I said it was the lowest time of my managerial career and it was.

"My life has been miserable since last Saturday, even coming into training and putting a brave face for the players and the staff.

"Sometimes you learn and you respect people who support you. I've had support not only from my staff but the board have been incredible. That win's for everybody and I hope it's the first step to winning a wee bit of the trust back.

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"It's only one game and three points but people were doubting and there were question marks; what's going on at Linfield? Have I lost the dressing room? Have they gone soft?

"Rightly so, there were a lot of questions asked about me. Hopefully that's the start of a bit of a run and we can get a proud Linfield team out on the pitch week-in, week-out."

Healy brought his players in for five training sessions between the Dub debacle and the Solitude success.

After Andrew Mitchell's early penalty and Mark Stafford's 56th minute winner combined to defeat Cliftonville, Healy was keen to heap praise on his players' desire and ability to bounce back.

"You're always wary it could go either way but we got a response from the players in horrendous conditions," he said.

"From half-time onwards, I thought we were by far and away the better team. They came into it, which they're going to do as the home team, and threw everything at it in the last five minutes. It would have been an injustice if we hadn't won the game."

It was the fourth defeat in 12 home league games this season for the Reds, the second at the hands of the Blues.

It also takes Linfield's record against the other four title-chasing sides to four wins, four defeats and two draws.

For Healy, it was just good to get back on the winning trail.

"I was so pleased for the players and the supporters," he continued. "I would imagine tonight with members and season ticket holders, a lot of the people at Solitude would have been at Queen's last week so I thank them for their undying support which really means a lot.

"(The players) were hurting. For people asking what happened in the dressing room last week, I can't remember. There was a lot of chit-chat but that's not important. It's about reactions and people working hard during the week. Then when games come around, the work's done and they can put a shift in.

"These boys have been incredible for me. There have been huge highs and the odd low, last Saturday the biggest. All I can do is give them everything every time I step onto the training pitch or into the dressing room. I've done that from day one and I'll do it until my last day at Linfield."

Healy also praised goalkeeper Rohan Ferguson's contribution on a blustery night, while offering hope that the injury which forced Mark Haughey off at half-time was 'just a little tweak'.

The Blues host Dungannon Swifts on Saturday afternoon while Cliftonville travel to Carrick, Crusaders welcome Larne, Glentoran go to Institute and Coleraine are at Warrenpoint.

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